Archive for April, 2010

On May 2nd 2000, geocaching was made possible when selective availability was removed from the GPS Satellite signals.  The first geocache was placed on the very next day. Now, over one million active geocaches later, geocachers worldwide are celebrating ten years of geocaching! ______________________________________________________________________

In preparation for our up coming road trip, which will involve some great geocaching, I nabbed some travel bugs from some nearby caches.  I feel that bugs like to travel more 10 to 20 miles at a time.  This is what I have in the cache bag at the moment.

Travel Bugs Waiting to be Released

I first joined the Geocaching Comunity on March 15 of 2001, which if I read my ID correctly puts me at #5979 or one of the first 6000 people who signed up, not sure what the number of users are now but I’m thinking its at least into the Million + range.

There is a guy here in Colorado who has over 22,000 finds and is a bit of a legend, he is ranked 5th in the world for the number of finds he has.  He joined 8 months AFTER I did…Obviously he has been more active and crushes my 237 finds, he has probably done that in just a few days…but I can say I have been doing it longer.

I got our first cache on April 8, 2001.  One of the reasons I was not active early on was due to the manual entry that was required for each set of coordinates…that really sucked.  Now I just click a link and the coordinates and the description and logs will be uploaded to my GPS….Its called paperless caching and it ROCKS.

I might grab a few more bugs tomorrow as I check out a potential deck job in Westminister, then I’ll spend some time loading up some caches along our route.  Its cool to help bugs reach their goals, of the six bugs I have released, one is on an adventure in New Zealand, one is deep in the arctic circle and the others are MIA, or in someones bag for a LONG time.

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Crazy Kids…Chaperon please?

From the Denver Post

BOULDER — Deputies with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office spent Wednesday night responding to a Boulder High senior class camping trip that got out of hand in the area of Gordon Gulch.

In the end, three students were taken by ambulance to the Boulder Community Hospital for problems related to overconsumption of alcohol, three more were taken to the alcohol recovery center, and one student was arrested on suspicion of third-degree assault and released to her parents.

Gordon Gulch is on Colo. 72 between Nederland and Ward. When deputies arrived, they found about 200 students camping in the area, according to Sheriff’s Office spokesman Rick Brough.

Due to the large number of students and the inclement weather that was moving in, the deputies remained on scene overnight to maintain order and provide medical assistance, Brough said.

When deputies discovered that the students had alcohol, they made them pour it out.

Later in the evening, several students had to receive treatment for alcohol consumption, and, in the morning, additional deputies went to the campsite to help students leave the area. A tow truck was requested to help move 40 to 50 cars that had become stuck. Those students will be billed later, according to Brough.

More crazy headlines of the day…..

Boulder police have arrested a 29-year-old transient on suspicion of urinating on his wife’s head while she held a sign asking for help near the intersection of 28th Street and Baseline Road.

Seriously….you can’t make this up.


Old man winter is a stubborn bugger this year.  Yesterday I picked up some more crushed rock for the driveway project, it has been on standby since I shot this picture last week.  So far I have hauled about a yard of road base 1/3 of a yard at a time and now 2/3 of the gray crusher fines….only have about 8-10 yards to go…it beats the mud that developed from the wood-chips of many years ago.

Driveway Improvement project

Last week we had about 8-9″ inches, and it just melted away 2 days ago, I got another load of the gray crusher fines yesterday, and set it about where the truck is parked.  This morning we woke to about 4-5″ as well…it just keeps on coming.  The ice left the reservoir earlier this week finally and last nights freeze + precip did not produce more ice!

We are heading out on Sat..for the great Canyon Adventure road trip….Warm sunshine and Desert Air!!

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The car wreck was on Tuesday…and you can see it was nice!  Wednesday I was working outside with just a t-shirt, Thursday am we had a couple inches of snow…then Thursday afternoon back to a t-shirt.  Friday am more snow…stayed cold all day.  Forecast for up to 20″…we got about 6″ or so.

Miss Maybelle the Snow Dog

This shot was from this morning.  Miss Maybelle lounging on the deck, oblivious to the sub-freezing temps.  As I am posting this it is well into the 40’s and the deck is dry and clear…I shoveled it about an hour ago and our powerful sunshine has melted away the residue.

Monday I did some organizing in shed two and made room for the snow blower, I also brought up the deck chairs from shed one.  All preparations for spring.

This time next week we start our road trip.  Cabin, Four Corners,  Monument Valley,  Grand Canyon, Zion.  We are both Sooooo looking forward to it.  The HP mini will be making the trip, so I can post a little.  The Solar laptop station will also be coming along.

Before the snow came Thursday, we had some thunderstorm activity, it was nice to hear the rumbles of the weather’s return.  At some point we lost our power and I was able to run the DSL modem off the Solar Generator…how cool is that.  Email and full web surfing in a complete area power outage.

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Earlier in the week we had some neighborhood excitement…seems that a car theft was attempted in the neighborhood.  But due to the thieves utter lack of skills they only made about  a 1/4 mile before wrecking the Yukon.  This happened to be in one of my clients driveways.

Bad Getaway

My guess was some punk kids…we get bad drivers but they normally can keep the tires pointing down.  After I got this pic the local law was asking me to “move along”.

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Some recent updates for this blog post…

An article I wrote for Networx.com on floor finish types.

And  a Scientific study  on the high embodied energy of bamboo flooring transport (its worse than concrete)


What everyone needs to know about bamboo flooring.  Lots of Americans have been brainwashed with the “green-washing” of bamboo for its use as flooring.  It is advertised as being “green” and durable, more durable that most other types of hardwood flooring.  It’s neither green nor durable.

Here are some facts to set the record straight.  Bamboo is not a hardwood, it’s a grass.  To convert the grass into “boards” a multi-step energy consuming process is required.  The bamboo is harvested and the hollow, round shoots are sliced into strips and boiled to remove the starch. (Major energy input #1) Then the strips are dried and then boiled again in a solution of water and boric acid to remove sugars (a termite attractant) and to inhibit fungus and mold growth. (Major Energy Input #2 and Chemical Input #1)

If a darker color is desired the bamboo will go through a carbonizing process of steaming the bamboo under controlled pressure and heat. (Major Energy Input #3) The bamboo will change to a brownish color. Carbonized bamboo is softer than the non-carbonized variety. The carbonizing process can reduce the floor’s final hardness significantly, Rendering it softer than some pines and softer than more common red oak.

Most bamboo is then Pressure laminated into solid boards (Major Energy input #4) using carcinogenic chemicals like urea-formaldehyde (UF) adhesive. (Toxic Chemical addition #2)

If working with a local hardwood all of this previous energy and chemical input is not required,

The bamboo “boards” are then milled into standard strip floorboards with tongue and groove profiles, sanded and readied for finishing. (Energy Input #5) The input for this step would be equal if working with an alternate hardwood. Most Bamboo is then pre-finished with another chemical, and then shipped half way around the planet to US markets. (Energy Input #6 and Chemical addition #3)

Durability Issues

Comparing the durability of bamboo.  It ranges from 1180  (Wikpedia Janka Hardness) in its more common carbonized form, Softer than all of these woods:

Australian Cypress                 1375
White Oak                                    1360
Tasmanian Oak                         1350
Ash (White)                                1320
American Beech                       1300
Red Oak (Northern)                 1290
Caribbean Heart Pine              1280
Yellow Birch,                              1260
Heart Pine                                    1225
Larch                                              1200

Natural Bamboo’s higher 1380 (Janka Hardness) is still below all of these woods:

Lignum vitae                                            4500
Brazilian Ebony                                        3692
Ipê / “Brazilian Walnut” / Lapacho   3684
African Pearlwood / Moabi                  3680
Bolivian Cherry                                         3650
Lapacho                                                        3640
Cumaru / “Brazilian Teak”                      3540
Ebony                                                            3220
Brazilian Redwood / Paraju                 3190
Bloodwood                                                  2900
Red Mahogany, Turpentine                 2697
“Southern Chestnut”                                2670
Spotted Gum                                               2473
Brazilian Cherry / Jatoba                      2350
Mesquite                                                       2345
“Golden Teak”                                               2330
Santos Mahogany, Bocote,                     2200
Brazilian Koa                                                 2160
“Brazilian Chestnut+ Walnut”                 2140
Bubinga                                                           1980
Cameron                                                         1940
Tallowwood                                                   1933
Merbau                                                            1925
Jarrah                                                               1910
Purpleheart                                                    1860
Goncalo Alves / Tigerwood                     1850
Hickory / Pecan                                           1820
Afzelia / Doussie                                           1810
Rosewood                                                       1780
African Padauk                                             1725
Blackwood                                                      1720
Merbau                                                            1712
Black Locust                                                  1700
Highland Beech                                             1686
Wenge, Red Pine                                            1630
Zebrawood                                                      1575
True Pine, Timborana                                 1570
Sapele / Sapelli                                               1510
Sweet Birch                                                      1470
Hard Maple / Sugar Maple                         1450
Caribbean Walnut                                          1390
Coffee Bean                                                       1390

In doing some research for this article I found a string of comments about the durability of Bamboo in many flooring applications at this website

Here are some of the more lively comments:

“I just had bamboo floors installed into my new home. The product came with an aluminum oxide urethane finish. The flooring industry has been touting bamboo floors and this coating as the hardest wood available with a coating just about impervious to anything. Wow, were they wrong! It’s brittle and scratches more than oak. Has anyone out there had similar problems? And if so, what can I do? I’ve asked my installer to ask a manufacturer’s rep to pay a visit. Outside of that, I fear I’m stuck putting booties on my dog’s paws!

Sue J
Severna Park, Maryland

“I had bamboo installed throughout my home in March and the very next day after installation, we had multiple scratches – even gouges in the floor. Every thing has scratched this floor, dogs, my vacuum cleaner, even a plastic hamper my husband pushed to the side to clean under. We have been fighting with the manufacturer ever since. Today, we are sending a sample of the bamboo to a forensic lab for testing. I cannot believe the coatings they say it came with are actually on it. I’m not giving up.

Donna B
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

“We just had a natural bamboo floor installed and selected for the very reason that it was advertised as very hard. The very day installation was complete I found an extraordinary number of shiny scratches and also many deep gouges. Needless to say, I am very unhappy and in dispute with the installer about the installation and waiting to hear from the manufacturer’s rep about this finish and what can be done to 1) repair it, and 2) make the finish hold up to normal wear and tear. We had planned to get a small dog, and now I don’t think any dog could live on it without causing extreme damage. I never intended to have a floor I had to tiptoe on in booties.

Sarah S
Cary, North Carolina

“Just had a black bamboo floor installed. It was totaled within a week. Deep scratches even with a finger nail. Manufacturer is replacing but I’m not confident the new floor will be better. The samples of the new floor certainly were not.

William H
Melbourne Beach, Florida

“My wife and I had the caramelized bamboo flooring installed throughout a 2400 square ft house. indentions and scratches result by the least amount of friction or weight upon the floor. We had the dealer visit our house and he offered a bucket of commercial grade finish which the installing company agreed to apply. Now we have shiny scratches and indentions. I may seek legal counsel.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

“I installed bamboo throughout my home this past year. And as many others are saying, all of the advertising, research and phone conversations were misleading. I asked about dogs & scratches & was assured my two beagles wouldn’t do damage. I some parts of the floor there are more scratches than not. I am at the point I have to replace my whole house. The manufacturer recommends I refinish it in a commercial grade finish, even though when I ordered it they told me the finish was the hardest out there. I am wondering if anyone else out there is interested in participating in a Class Action Lawsuit. My old maple floors held up better than this!

Mona C
architectural designer – Royal Oak, Michigan

“I would like to join a class action law suit. I experienced the same problems. I can’t wear my shoes in my unit because the wood scratches and dents so easily. In addition, at least half of my boards are cracked. I feel I was mislead as well. I was also told that the product is extremely hard. Any pressure results in dents and scratches as well as cracks.

Jen D
– Winchester, Massachusetts

“Just installed 2200 sq/ft of carbonized Bamboo and the finish can be scratched off by my finger nail. Dents and scratches everywhere! Class action let’s go!

Jason J
North Berwick, Maine

“My husband and I just built a brand new 4200 sq ft house and installed natural bamboo throughout the entire downstairs. We were told it was the toughest wood flooring out – commercial grade – the first week we had several large scratches. If there is any dirt, sand, etc. on floor – watch out – major scratches. We moved a rug from our entry which has been down 2 weeks and already major bleaching of the non covered wood. What a disappointment! What a waste of money – beautiful yes – worthless yes – it’s only good if you don’t walk on it, live on it, breath on it. Water leaves marks – horrible floor!

Stacy H
Little Rock, Arkansas
These type of comments continue with about 4 more web pages….about 95% are negative, and the term class action lawsuit makes a few more appearances.

In regards to the “green nature” Bamboo does mature more quickly than other species that are more often used for flooring.  If these dissatisfied homeowners replace their bamboo with maple Hickory or Oak. Then the “green-ness” of the bamboo is more drastically compromised.  The old flooring will likely end up in a land fill and additional flooring installed in its place.  Two floors are never as green as one.

I quote here from the Wikpedia article on bamboo flooring. Some interesting points are covered.

“Environmental Criticisms

Some research has shown that bamboo may not be as environmentally-friendly as it could be. The following are statements made in a report by Dr. Jim Boyer in a research paper for Dovetail partners.

“Recently, bamboo expansion has come at the expense of natural forests, shrubs, and low-yield mixed plantations . . . It is common practice to cut down existing trees and replace them with bamboo.”

• “As forestlands tend to be in hilly and mountainous areas with steep slopes, clear-cutting has resulted in an increase in erosion until the bamboo becomes fully established . . .”

• “Natural forests in the vicinity of bamboo plantations have sometimes given way to bamboo as a result of deliberate efforts to replace them or because of the vigorous natural expansion of bamboo in logged over forests. This process has also had a negative impact on bio-diversity.”

• “The intensive management practices employed involve manual or chemical weeding and periodic tilling of the land to keep the soil clear of undergrowth. These practices increase erosion and result in single-species plantations over large areas.”

• “The intensive use of chemicals (pesticides, weed killers and fertilizers) [associated with growing bamboo] also affects the environment . . .”

So to meet the growing demand for perceived “green” resources.  Native diverse tropical forests are being cut and replaced with “farmed” bamboo.  These plantations now require the application of pesticides and fertilizers.  Once harvested the bamboo is processed using lots of energy and a collection of toxic chemicals, it is then shipped to the opposite side of the world to be installed and admired for a short time before the likelihood of getting replaced for its inferior durability.
The Better Option

Locally sourced FSC certified domestic hardwoods.  Milled and air-dried to your local climate.  Installed by local craftsmen, and finished with natural plant based oil finishes.  I have seen many old homes that have hardwood floors that are living into their second century.

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Cedar Plank Salmon...Done to Perfection

A number of years ago we were introduce to Cedar Plank Salmon at a neighbors.  They had enjoyed this dish at a restaurant and then tried it at home.  Since then we have had it more times than I can count, and each time it has bestowed its smokey goodness to us.

The recipe is quite simple and I have shared it with friends on a number of occasions.  I have even seen “kits” available in some stores for those without imagination.  The “kits” consist of a wimpy 3/8″ plank of cedar and a small bag of spices, mostly salt.  I use cedar in many of my carpentry projects from time to time, and usually have a few scraps kicking around.  So instead of dropping $12 for a kit…that has $1 worth of wood and 10 cents in spices.  I nab a scrap board  from the shop.  It is common cedar (western red) 3/4″ thick, depending on the former project it can be from 4″ to 8″ wide.  If the boards are too narrow to support the fillet  I use two boards side by side.

The first step is to cut a piece of wood that will fit the fillet, I normally do this with the band saw.  The next step is to soak the board.  I fill the sink with about 3-4″ of hot water and place  our filled plastic water pitcher on top of the plank to submerge it.   Soak the plank for about 20-30 minutes, after the plank is soaked,  place the fillet on the wood and set it on the grill.  I like to have the plank extend about an inch beyond the fillet….bigger fillets needs bigger planks…..  The grill has been preheated for 5-10 minutes and is now at about 50%.  Sometimes I use a teriyaki marinade or spice rub but mostly just the plain fillet.   Once on the grill close it up and let the magic begin.  Its necessary to keep the lid closed, this allows the smoke to work its wonders and keeps it from flaring up.

The photo above was shot just before it was  removed from the grill.  With the lid up the extra oxygen causes the plank sides to burst into flames…smoke is good flames are not.  I have also used a spray bottle to limit flare ups too, keep an eye on it.  As some larger fillets will need a longer cook time, the plank can get pretty cooked.  The fillet above was an average size and fed both Tori and I.  Cooking time about 15 minutes.  The inside stays moist and the the smoke provides a nice caramel color.

For a side dish we had slices of tomatoes that were topped with Dublin Cheddar and broiled, we often dress those with a dash of Balsamic Vinegar and pinch of sea salt.  Avocados add a third dimension to the flavors.

Ready to Eat

Sometimes we will have Cedar Plank Salmon on a Caesar Salad, as we do with our grilled chicken.  I hope to try this with some chicken some day…but will need to keep a close eye on cooking time.  Under cooked salmon is Sushi…under cooked chicken is Salmonella.   Some people have also used this method with other woods (apple, hickory, Mesquite) but with cedar scrap handy this has been our primary route.

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Break-up is Imminent

The ice in the res has picked up its translucent mottling, and it won’t be long before we get to see the sun sparkle on the waves.  Yesterday on my drive down the hill I noticed open water along the northern shore line.  I thought it might start to break up a few days ago when we had a touch of wind, but the southern shore is still ice locked. Earlier in the week we woke to a wet deck, so at some point through the night we had some rain…the first of the season.

The res from the bedroom window

The basic rule of thumb is the reservoir freezes up around thanksgiving and thaws around Easter.  With the spring melt higher along the divide increasing the creeks flow in mid May-to mid June.  The spillover the dam typically happens in early June.

This year on our trip to the cabin for thanksgiving I grabbed an 8 pound bag of ice, when we got back and cleaned out the cooler I left the cooler outside with the ice still inside.  To our surprise we were able to re-use the same bag of ice for our New Years and Spring Break Trip…about 4 months of use out of a single bag!  I’m thinking if we ever get a chest freezer and stick it in one of the unheated sheds..it will be environmentally cooled for a third of the year.

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Spring Colors

Some of you may be thinking flowers when the title of spring colors is up above.  But life at over 8,000 feet is harsh, our flowers are still a long way off.  The spring color I was thinking about comes in small orbs… aka  Easter Eggs.  Yes, Easter was last week  but I have not updated these pages for a few days.  Last weekend Tori and I had the girls, we dyed eggs on Saturday and watched some spring flurries.

Spring Color...Mountain style

I remember way back when living in Michigan, I would go for some long spring training rides on my bike in preparation for the up coming season.  These rides would often hit 40 to 50 miles of rolling county roads.  I remember seeing “Egg Trees” decorated about the isolated homes and farms.  These were small deciduous trees, decorated with a handful of plastic eggs.  This years the girls and I participated in a good old fashioned Easter Egg Hunt,  first inside then later a couple rounds outside.

When we finished dying the eggs on Saturday we decided to paint the glacier with the left over cups of color, it was a bit like tie dying the side of the hill.  A few gallons of color would have made for a real pretty hillside but we only had about 8 cups.  The girls and I were pretty pleased with the results.

color on the glacier

Yesterday I hand dug the “Moat” at the top of the glacier.  Miss Maybelle was seen challenging the momma fox by her den the other day, and since then we have been tiring to keep a bit of control in her wanderings.  As you can see from the color on the glacier pic the fence there is but a few inches high at best.  Insignificant to a dog that can clear 4 feet in a single bound….So yesterdays  laborious task was for me to dig and dig and dig.  After about an hour of work in the heavy corn snow the moat was complete….As of this morning it was keeping Miss Maybelle  (aka “don’t fence me in”) contained.  The fence line along the left side of the moat is about shoulder to head high on me…the uphill nature limits Maybelle’s attempts at jumping out.

Moat at the top of the Glacier

The forecast is for low to mid 70’s in the flats and upper 50’s for us up her.  Having 4 to 5 foot piles of snow all over the yard keeps the air temp low…if you can imagine walking into a yard sized cooler that is filled with snow…you are starting to get the picture.  We really don’t see warmer temps until the snow is gone…which usually happens sometime in May…A good rainstorm however can make a big dent in our glacier.


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Just spent the morning updating the meta-data on my recently upgraded Flickr pages…whew…87 titles and descriptions…my kester is sore time for a stroll with Miss Maybelle.

Flickr Pages



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Solar Laptop Station Update

Solar Laptop Station

I upgraded the battery to a single 12 V 10ah sealed battery a few months ago. I just had this unit down at our off-grid cabin in New Mexico last week. I ran my laptop a few hours each day and would top off the laptop’s battery by plugging into this. We also used this to power our “stereo” system which consists of a pair of 12Volt Bose Computer speakers and an Ipod, on one of the days we were there we ran the “stereo” for over 8 hours…first some music while I was putting in the rest of the cabin LED’s Ceiling lights, and then later we listened to an audio book for about 4 hours…The entire time the voltage never dropped below 12 volts on the battery…..In other words the charge was maintained at 95% or better for the 4 days we were there.

We will be taking this on our up-coming road trip to the Grand Canyon and Zion National parks…Zion has a “no generator” policy.  We camp in tent sites without hook ups…so this unit will be great for letting us upload pics from the digital cameras and keep up with our blogs and journaling.  All in the perfect peace and quiet that solar provides.  The other unit that I have for sale and posted about here has 24 ah of storage, (nearly 2.5 times the storage of my laptop unit) it has  two 6 volt 12 ah batteries wired in series, that unit also has a 300 watt inverter as part of the “package”, it is also set up in a simpler configuration with dual 12V sockets, and is single switched (on/off).    For our up coming road trip we can use the 300 watt inverter I keep in my truck for any minor AC loads.

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